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‘A Rude Life’: Journalist Vir Sanghvi’s memoir displays a classic case of Delhi Syndrome

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Vir Sanghvi’s biography on his website describes him as “the best-known Indian journalist of his generation”. On the jacket of A Rude Life, his new memoir, the claim arrives diluted: “one of the best-known”. But, even allowing for the imprecision of measuring fame, its stronger form seems to me perfectly defensible. Certainly no peer has been so well-known for so long.

MJ Akbar, Swapan Dasgupta and the late Chandan Mitra have long been more associated with politics (or other things) than journalism; Shekhar Gupta and Tavleen Singh’s name recognition is more restricted than Sanghvi’s (to Delhi and to avid, rather than casual, consumers of politics). Twitter followers are one measure of fame: the only journalists with more than Sanghvi’s 4.2 million are a decade or more younger. Except for Rajat Sharma, who does not exactly represent a like-for-like comparison.

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An early start

Dhiren Bhagat, who from the generosity of posterity now looks like that generation’s brightest star, died at the wheel of his Maruti Gypsy in 1988, aged thirty-one. In 1988 Sanghvi, only a year older than Bhagat, was already on his third stint as editor of a magazine, the Calcutta weekly Sunday. A decade earlier he had become India’s youngest-ever magazine editor, at Bombay. He then spent several years running…

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